Page 10 - Senior Times South Central Michigan September 2020 - 27-09
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Page 10 Senior Times - September 2020
 GUIDE FOR LONG-DISTANCE CAREGIVING
By: Glin Winsor, Practice Manager, DayOne Family Healthcare P.C.
  Long-distance caregiving requires more than weekly phone calls and occasional visits. If you want to make an impact as a long-distance care- giver, you need to lay the groundwork for effec- tive, informed caregiving. Here are the first steps to take when becoming a long-distance senior caregiver.
yourself playing phone tag more often than not. Many older adults are hesitant to adopt new
 Gather Healthcare Information – You can’t protect your aging parents’ health if you don’t understand their medical history. Compile a doc- ument that includes a list of your parents’ current and past health conditions, medications, and aller- gies, a contact list for their medical providers, and details regarding their insurance coverage. Better Health While Aging lists additional docu- ments to include and explains how to compile it into a personal health record.
technologies, but convincing your parents to use a mobile phone is worth the effort. Mobile phones not only allow you to get in touch no matter where your parent is, they also have video chat capabilities. With video chat, you can visually assess your parents’ well-being rather than rely- ing on voice alone. There are even smartphones available for under $200.
Collecting this information doesn’t only help you as a caregiver; it also helps the patient’s doc- tors provide the best care. When doctors don’t have the full picture of a patient’s health, they might overlook symptoms or prescribe medica- tions that interact with other drugs a patient is taking. Compiling a health record that your par- ents can bring to medical appointments ensures their health care providers are always informed.
Long-distance caregiving isn’t something you have to jump into with your eyes shut. Rather, it requires careful planning and information gather- ing to be an effective family caregiver. With these four steps, you’ll build a strong foundation that enables you to provide the quality care your par- ents deserve.
Read Up on Medicare – If you’re under
65, you probably have a general idea of how Medicare works. But you might not understand that there are different types of Medicare cover- age and that the services and drugs covered under various Medicare plans can change from year to year.
Hiring help for your parents ensures their pride doesn’t get in the way of their safety. It also allows you to screen workers with background checks and interviews to find trustworthy care staff. In addition to professional caregivers, con- sider paying for your parents to get an extra hand with routine chores. Services like housekeeping, grocery delivery, and landscaping (the national average cost for lawn services is $136 per ses- sion) are affordable and make senior parents’ lives much easier.
Publisher’s note: Miles for Memories has
two products that can help your loved one. The Personal I.D. bracelet allows for all medical information to be carried on the wrist wherever they go. It never even needs to be removed, as it
is fully waterproof. If they have a situation where they are unable to respond a rescuer can scan the bracelet to find out who they are and their emer- gency contact information. They will no longer need to carry papers with prescriptions, doctors, or medical condition information that can easily get lost and often can change. You manage the data. The G.P.S. watch does all of the above as well as gives the caregivers the ability to know the whereabouts of their loved one, and whether they have wandered from home. It also allows for a two-way conversation. The G.P.S. device is water resistant. Visit milesformemories.org for more.
As a caregiver, it’s important for you to stay up to date regarding changes to Medicare. If you don’t, your parents could lose coverage for a drug or service they need to stay healthy and end up paying out-of-pocket for essential health care needs. Do your research and remember to check for changes before mid-October each year when the Annual Election Period opens.
Establish Communication Channels – Regular communication allows long-distance caregivers to keep tabs on their senior parents’ well-being. However, if your senior’s parents only have a landline phone, you could find
Hire a Local Care Team – As a long-distance caregiver, you rely on local agencies to give your aging parents the hands-on assistance they need. But if you leave it up to your parents to hire caregiving staff, they could get abused or taken advantage of by an unscrupulous individual. Or, driven by a desire to remain independent, your parents could refuse to hire help completely.
If you’re concerned your parents will be over- whelmed by a traditional smartphone, purchase
a device intended for seniors. Devices like the Jitterbug Smart phone, GrandPad tablet, or Miles for Memories G.P.S. watch are designed to be easy for seniors to use so your parents’ new tech has less of a learning curve.
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